If you’re after an aquatic critter that’s different from a fish, yabbies are the colourful new pet you’re looking for. Learn all about yabby tank setup and how to look after your yabby with this helpful care guide.

Yabby care

Yabby fact file

Life span – Up to 7 years
Size – Up to 20cm long
Diet – Yabby food, fruits and veggies
Home – Tank

Care and maintenance

One of the most amazing things about yabbies is their ability to grow by moulting their hard exoskeleton. The yabby will wriggle and twist until it can arch itself up and out of the hard shell in five or ten minutes. It will remain soft for about a day before their larger shell firms up.

Yabbies are very mellow pets. They will be happy to live in tropical or cold-water aquariums and, unlike most other aquatic pets, aren’t too fussy when it comes to temperature. What will get a yabby riled up, though, is when they share a tank with an unlikeable mate or when they’re ready to eat.

Being invertebrates, they may be spineless, but your yabby will put up a fight if it wants to!  You can definitely own more than one yabby and they can even share their habitat with other fish, but you need to remember that they’re territorial. If a yabby doesn’t get along with their tank mate, they won’t hesitate to get out their claws, especially if there’s food involved. Yabbies aren’t exactly the type to be thinking of etiquette when something delicious is in their sights.

When you want to introduce new yabbies to the community, be sure to remove all of your yabbies (and place in a temporary tank), clean the tank and rearrange ornaments and change the water so it’s a fresh environment for all of them.

Also be aware that if you have both male and female yabbies, they will breed.

Setting up

Invest in a spacious tank with a removable lid. Choose the size of your tank depending on how many yabbies you are housing and how big they’ll get. Yabbies are known to escape their tanks, so be sure the tank you buy has a securable lid. You can find different options and tank advice at your local Petbarn.

Your yabby will need a base or substrate in their new home. Yabby bed beads are sold at Petbarn and are the perfect material for them to crawl around in. You could even put in a layer of sand so your yabby can burrow.

Next, fill your new tank with water. Yabbies love a water temperature between 12 and 20°C but they will tolerate colder or warmer water if they must. Invest in a thermometer to regulate the water temperature. Keep the water level lower as yabbies are mischievous creatures and will crawl up any elements in their tank and possibly escape. Yabbies can be sensitive to chlorine, so you should treat the water with a water conditioner before introducing them to their new home. You also need a filtration system, unless your tank has that built in already.

Keep your yabbies’ lives interesting by including lots of different elements in the tank that they can play with, hide under or dig around. Try putting some plants, logs, pipes, rocks or pots into your tank to create the perfect mini ecosystem for your yabby. You can find toys and tank accessories at Petbarn that will keep your pet stimulated.


To keep your yabby healthy, you will need to feed them a balanced, nutrient-filled diet. Find yabby food with the best mix of nutrients and vitamins at your local Petbarn. Your yabbies will appreciate fruits and veggies too. Carrots, peas, potato peels, spinach and most fruits appeal to them. You could even treat them with some chicken pellets or a bit of lean mince every once in a while.

Yabbies can live for months without eating, so feed them every one or two days. Make sure to remove leftover food as soon as possible to avoid water contamination.


When handling your yabby pick them up from behind their two claws. You will need a substitute home set up for them so you can immediately put them back into water. Wearing protective gloves when you pick them up is a good idea.

When bringing your yabby home, a polystyrene box, container or large fish bag will be comfortable. You can put moist packing material that has been soaked in healthy water for 24 hours in the substitute habitat. Otherwise, filling a container or bag with healthy water will keep your yabby happy.


To keep the tank clean, you will need to change your water regularly. Only change small amounts at a time, equalling a total change every two to three months.

Your water filter will fill up regularly. A lot of yabby parents find themselves cleaning their water filters every two to three days. To reduce the amount of waste that fills up in your filter, feed your yabbies less and remove leftovers quickly after they are finished eating.

It’s also worth investing in a quality magnetic tank sponge or algae cleaner to help you get deep into any nooks and crannies and eliminate algae build-up.

Health care

Yabbies are extremely likely to remain free of any diseases or ailments as long as they’re looked after properly. If they are kept in the best quality water, fed appropriately nutrient-rich diets and aren’t stressed, they will live long, healthy and happy lives.

If you have more than one yabby and they are continuously fighting, it can cause them stress and even injury. To avoid this, try to keep your yabbies around the same size. Another tip is to perform a sneaky switcheroo by removing your yabbies from their tank, moving everything into different positions and returning your yabbies back to their aquarium at the same time. They will think they are somewhere new, which will totally change the dynamic of their habitat and hopefully create some peace.

If you notice anything peculiar about your yabby or you need some general health advice from an expert, visit your local Greencross Vets.

Pet safety tips

All invertebrates are sensitive to copper, so it’s important to make sure that any aquarium medications or elements in your tank are copper free.

While you may want to pick up your yabby every once in a while, it’s best not to touch them. They may give you a stress-induced nip and being out of water will also dry them out, which is unhealthy for them.

Tip: Only change small amounts of tank water at a time to keep your pet healthy

Yabby checklist

Find all the yabby supplies you need at Petbarn online and in-store.

  • Tank
  • Substrate
  • Decorative elements: plants, logs, pipes & rocks
  • Filter
  • Thermometer
  • Yabby food
  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Algae scraper
  • Magnetic glass clean

Shop Now